A Little Help Can Boost Holiday Joy for Elderly

SATURDAY Dec. 15, 2007 -- Older relatives who are frail or ill have special emotional, mental and physical health needs that require extra attention to help them enjoy the holiday season, geriatric specialists say.

So, experts at the University of California, San Diego, offer the following tips:

  • If an older family member tires easily or is vulnerable to over-stimulation, limit the activities or length of time that person is included in the festivities. Consider planning a nap time or providing a "quiet room" where an older person can take a break from the noise and confusion.
  • If there's a get-together at the home of someone with memory impairment or behavioral problems, don't rearrange the furniture. This could cause confusion and anxiety. If the family function is somewhere else, remove slippery throw rugs and other items that could be hazards or barriers to people who have difficulty walking.
  • Avoid comments that might embarrass someone with short-term memory problems.
  • Involve everyone in holiday meal preparation, assigning tasks to include the youngest and oldest family members.
  • Make sure that older people adhere to their regular schedule of medications during the holiday hustle and bustle.
  • Reach out to older relatives and friends who are alone. Loneliness in older people is associated with major depression and with suicidal thoughts and impulses.

More information

Find out more about geriatric care at the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

Posted: December 2007


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